Former jockey come trainer Kody Nestor to return to jockey ranks

Kody Nestor
Dubbo trainer Kody Nestor is to return to race riding as a jockey.

Kody Nestor hung up his jockey boots in November 2017 after weight battles and injury got the better of him. A successful country jockey, Nestor booted home 438 winners and 1211 minor placings in his 3466-start career.

Turning his hand to training, he grew a successful team in Western NSW at Dubbo, generating 107 winners and over $2.5 million prizemoney in his four years of training before suddenly closing his stable six months ago.

Citing the pressure of training a big team, becoming a victim of his own strive for excellence and some personal issues as reasons for closing the doors. He walked away from it all and took a break to rejuvenate his mind and body.

In hindsight, he says he took on training too quickly after his riding career finished and while he achieved a lot in over three years the job wore him down.

Now, on Sunday, Nestor will be back in the jockey’s room at Dubbo when he resume’s what he says is a ‘low key return’ to the jockey ranks.

“I’m slowly bringing the weight down and seeing what I can do,’’ Nestor said.

“I thought I might as well jump back into the saddle and punch a few heavy ones around.

“I’m enjoying it at the moment. I’m not going to get down to the weights I used to so I might be able to live a bit better lifestyle and not hammer myself.”

“Training for me was all about getting a better quality horse in the bush but every time I got one you were forever on the road travelling to race meetings,’’ he said.

“We had a pretty big team at Dubbo. We were doing a lot of travelling. It was enjoyable, I loved the training, but I was starting to get to the point where I was wearing out.

“When I finished riding last time I went straight into training and didn’t have that break away, looking back I would have given myself six to 12 months off.

“I’d had a couple of bad falls and I think this time around my body has had a fairly lengthy break. As I started dieting it’s been coming off quite naturally.”

Nestor has been enjoying the lifestyle on the NSW Central and Mid North Coast areas since closing his Dubbo stable.

He’s lost 16kg during his time away and while there was no intention to resurface as a jockey so quickly, the new found way of life is agreeing with him and he’s keen to ‘give it a crack for a year or two’.

“The first three or four months I spent most of my time fishing and living on the beach,’’ Nestor said.

“I feel good. I enjoy jogging along the beach and going to the gym. I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens.

“There’s no pressure. I go in to ride a few work and you knock off by 7 or 8am and you’re done for the day, it’s a pretty good lifestyle.

“You can duck up to Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Taree and it’s not far to Muswellbrook and Scone.”

Nestor has three rides at Dubbo on Sunday – Barry The Poet for Brett Thompson in the Omni Building Group Handicap (1300m), Mishani Vandal for Cindy Monaghan in the Marty Nelson Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Plate (1000m) and Achi Baba for Grant Marshall in the Ronald McDonald House Charity Handicap (1200m).

Each of his rides has 58.5kg or more and is sitting at +2500 or more with horse betting sites.

There is certainly going to be no expectation on Nestor to get them home. If he does, it will be a bonus.

“I’ll get a good look at where the runs will be, it’s whether I’m good enough to get into them,’’ he said.

“I didn’t want to start off riding a -142.86 shot, where there’ll be a lot of pressure. It’s going to take me a little while to get my eye, timing and balance back in.

“I’ve been out of the game for so long it could take me a good two, three, four weeks before I get my timing.”

Nestor is the only person to ride and train a winner in the NSW Country Championships series, having won the inaugural Western Districts Qualifier on Dane De Lago as a jockey in 2015, and also rode him in the Final, he then trained both Sneak Preview and Activation to win Western Districts Qualifiers in 2020 and 2021.

Don’t expect Nestor’s comeback to be a permanent one. He still has the desire to train, just not right now.

“This is something I’m going to do in between, I’m not ready to go back to the full-time schedule of training,’’ he said.

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